SD school assessment bill moves to appropriations committeePIERRE (AP) — Lawmakers are considering a new system for assessing South Dakota public schools to replace the national No Child Left Behind guidelines.
By: VERONICA ZARAGOVIA, The Associated Press
PIERRE (AP) — Lawmakers are considering a new system for assessing South Dakota public schools to replace the national No Child Left Behind guidelines.
The Senate Education Committee voted Thursday to defer the measure to the appropriations committee. Lawmakers added a "do pass" recommendation, which means it would next go to the Senate floor.
The so-called "Next Generation Accountability Model" uses four indicators to evaluate schools: student achievement, academic growth, college and career ready for high school students and school climate. The indicators for elementary and middle schools are the same except that attendance replaces college and career preparedness.
Melanie Schopp, South Dakota Education Secretary, said she favors the bill, though she said some good was sparked by the federal school improvement law that the state bill aims to replace.
When President George W. Bush administration signed the No Child Left Behind law in 2002, South Dakota lacked an accountability system, Schopp said, forcing educators to recognize flaws. However, it imposed "one single component — a statewide test" to examine educators and students and set an unrealistic goal of 100 percent proficiencies in math and reading by 2014, she said.
Officials began developing the new system for public schools in September.
Sandy Arsenault of the South Dakota Education Association said the model isn't yet polished. She took part in the task force that evaluated the state's teaching system and said the group met only four times.
"We've taken out the language of No Child Left Behind and we've opened up a very general accountability bill, especially when it comes to the teacher and principal evaluation part of that," Arsenault said. "We will give the Department of Education new powers to establish the process and there won't be constraints on that power. We need to make sure those evaluation systems are reliable."
Overall, the new system would include student testing and would look at students' progress from year to year. It would also evaluate the performance of teachers and administrators.
Schools ranked near the bottom would receive support to make improvements instead of being punished, department officials said.
At Thursday's committee hearing, Senate lawmakers urged the Education Department to ensure it has enough funding to support the changes because state dollars are unlikely.